When the first blog called Links.net was introduced in 1994 by a college undergrad called Justin Hall, it was established primarily as a way to collect interesting stuff he found on the Internet.
Others followed Hall’s attempts by creating their own “online diaries.” But it wasn’t until Jorn Barger created a “weblog” in 1997 that the idea of creating useful posts in a particular order began to take hold.
Fast forward to today and it’s clear that blogging has become a common form of communication on the Internet.
Most large businesses, especially big brands, have well-established blogs. Because they are well-known, it is easy for them to get traction based on the content they create.
For smaller businesses, it’s not so easy. Many of them struggle to maintain a blog, even though they know it’s an essential part of their content marketing strategy.
If you’re on the fence about even creating one, here’s some solid advice from marketing guru Neil Patel.
Now that you’ve realized how important a blog really is, here are 21 ways that you can make that blog really great. But before you get into this, I need to give you a warning: this is hard work, so be prepared to put some real time and effort into this type of content marketing. In addition, because there are so many blogs out there, it is imperative that the content you create is high quality and unique as possible. If it is, you’ll slowly gain the trust of your readers and your value will go up in their eyes, making it easier and use your blog to sell your products and services.
Coming up with ideas for your blog isn’t always easy. That’s why most of us need a little inspiration. I suggest creating Google Alerts, using a few of your industry’s keywords and asking Google to deliver at least 15-20 stories to you a day. It will depend how popular your industry topic is and how much you want in your inbox but having lots of options will help you come up with some great blog topics. Other topic generators include Buzzsumo (without a paid subscription, you’ll be limited to the number of times you can use this for ideas, but it’s still worth it) and Answer the Public.
Look at what’s happening in the local and national news and if there’s anything that relates to your industry, ask the question, “What is missing from this?” or “How can I put a different slant on it?” If you can come up with a way to say something different about a familiar topic, then your blog will stand out.
Think about your customers’ problems or what you perceive their problems might be based on your conversations with them or how they buy or have bought from you in the past. Is there another product or service that will make their lives better? If so, write about it and explain how your business fits into that.
Subscribe to trade publications in your industry to see what’s trending. If you see an article that you’d like to write about and that nobody else in your local area is tackling, then you’re ahead of the game.
TradePub, an online research library that houses content in the form of e-books, White Papers, magazines, and case studies from a variety of industries, is a good place to start looking. Subscribe for free and get an unlimited amount of resources to your inbox on a weekly basis.
The New York Public Library has a wealth of resources when it comes to locating trade journals and such. Go the Articles and Databases page, where you’ll find ways to search for e-journals and other valuable resources.
See what your competitors are doing and share their content in the hopes that they will share yours, too. Hopefully, their audience will notice, and it will allow you to expand your reach.
Interview an expert in your industry or someone who is already well-known. Mention the typical problems that your customers are having and ask the expert to give his or her advice. Include some of the main highlights from the interview in a bulleted list.
You could include a short video excerpt in your blog post to add value. An easy way to conduct the interview is to record it on your phone, download the recording and then submit the audio to Speechpad for fast and easy transcription. The price to transcribe begins at $1 per minute.
Attend industry conferences and talk to people to get a sense of what’s current with your industry or pay close attention to the workshops that are being offered. This should provide you with a quick guide to your audience’s most pressing concerns and in the process, you’ll come up with some topics.
Use great headlines to draw readers in. You should have a clear idea of what you’re going to write before you write your headline. To help you create winning headlines with the right keywords, try out Wordstream’s free keyword tool or CoSchedule’s headline analyzer.
Make sure your blog/website is pleasing to the eye. Hire a web designer or if you’re nifty with technology, you may want to create it yourself. WordPress is a popular content management system, although it has many competitors, including Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, among others. If you do it yourself, it’s a good idea to create a wireframe or outline, which will make the design part much easier. Look to other blogs for inspiration as well.
Use a story narrative in your posts, if possible. You don’t have to do it all the time, but it certainly helps when it comes to the readability of your blog. Google has invested heavily in storytelling judging by its “Search On” documentary series. People like to read a story that has a beginning and an end, and stories often tug at our emotions much more so than bare facts. So, try telling a story the next time you start writing a blog post
Make sure to add visuals to your posts. Images are very important to a blog. Without them, the reader won’t be enticed to stay (sad, but true). While there are plenty of free images out there (Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, and Canva are just two sites that make them available to users), I would be extra careful when using such images.
Be sure they are licensed for free use. Photographers who post their images to sites like Flickr and others place certain restrictions on their photography, so read the fine print. It’s also a good idea to use video, where possible. Embedding the code from YouTube and inserting it to your blog works much better than copying and pasting a link.
Don’t forget, also, to optimize your images’ alt text. Because search engines can’t “see” images the way humans can, it’s important that they are labeled in such a way that they rank well in Google’s image results.
While you may be tempted to write in long flowing sentences, keep it short. Breaking up paragraphs makes it easier for the reader to scan the article. Remember that most people are on their mobile phones when reading content these days, so it needs to be broken up into smaller sections with images or videos in between.
Pay attention to SEO. That means using a variety of on-page tactics that will give your blog the opportunity to rank well in the search engines and eventually get noticed by prospective customers.
Use keywords that you think your prospective customers might be typing into a search bar. Remember, though, that optimizing your content for SEO is not about stuffing your articles with relevant keywords but choosing one or two long-tail keywords. Be sure to download the Yoast SEO plugin, which will greatly help with your SEO efforts.
Backlinks are must if you want your blog to be successful. Listen to the advice that Neil Patel gives on this really important facet of blogging.
Know and understand your audience. Once you’ve got that down pat, create an email list that you should communicate with on a regular basis. Use paid ads on social media sites to grow that audience. Depending on your blog’s demographics, Facebook is a good place to start if you’re looking to develop a good lead generation strategy.
Don’t depend on the written word alone to generate traffic. Dip your toes into video (YouTube) and audio (podcasting). Video has gained a lot of steam in recent years and podcasting is also catching on among consumers. The podcasting medium is perfect for those who want to listen to what they want when they want it. The trick is to create quality content that is both interesting and valuable to your listener.
Make sure you are writing content that is valuable to your readers, meaning that you are educating them about something they didn’t know about before. If not, they won’t return. It’s just that simple.
While you may be an expert in your own industry, that doesn’t mean that you’ll always write the perfect content people want to see. Google should be your friend when it comes to figuring out what your readers want from you. Typing in a few phrases (long-tail words) can help. For example, the phrase “increasing traffic to your blog” may produce very different results from a somewhat similar but still different phrase like, “how to increase traffic to your blog?”
See this example from marketer Jeff Bullas when he tested the phrase, increase traffic to our blog.
Gain more traction for your blog by creating an e-book and then promoting it on your blog/website. You could create one based on a blog post you’ve written before or based on years of experience in your industry. From the design perspective, Canva is a great tool to use and if writing thousands of words seems daunting, try using a tool like 750Words that encourages users to write three pages a day (equaling approximately 750 words) holding them accountable and moving them forward in the process.
To drive more traffic to your blog, think about writing posts on other sites. If you’re in either the B2C or B2B space, you might want to consider applying to be a contributor to Business2Community, the open online community for thought leadership among business professionals.
Contribute to conversations on question-and-answer sites like Quora and others such as AskFM, which is popular among mobile users. If you monitor the sites and see questions that relate to your industry, jump in and provide the appropriate answers.
When signing up for Quora, if you don’t have an account already, pay close attention to your bio, making sure to include keywords that accurately describe your business. The site typically displays the first 50 characters of your profile when an answer is submitted.
Try to answer questions that don’t have any responses. That way, your answer and your profile (with a link to your website/blog) will stand out. And remember to keep them short.
Include a Call to Action at the end of every post and somewhere else on your website too, one that focuses on the products and/or services that you offer. Plus, it’s also a good idea to end your posts with a question.
Blogging is a long game that takes an incredible amount of patience. But if done consistently over time, it can yield positive results. Subscribing to successful digital marketers like Neil Patel and others will give you the impetus to keep going and you’ll learn something new in the process.
Were any of these tips helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments section or drop me a line at [email protected].
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